Cheesecake is believed to be a dish of Amercan orgin but with European roots. Cheesecake goes down a treat all over the world, you may not find a single coffee shop that doesn’t serve it. There are tons of variations and recipes for cheesecake – it is prepared with chocolate, berries, fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and other seasonings. It can be baked and non-baked, small and big, of different color and taste.
It is extremely easy to learn how to bake a cheesecake, you should only know and keep to a few rules.
Being an American dessert, cheesecake is made from cream cheese (like Philadelphia) since its consistency is more creamy and fatty.
However, perfect and creamy cheesecake can be also made from cottage cheese. It is important to properly choose and prepare cottage cheese. First of all, it should be high in fat – the higher in fat, the creamier the consistency. Secondly, cottage cheese should have the consistency of a lumpless paste. If you use cottage cheese of creamy consistency, you first need to discard excess liquid. Large curd cottage cheese should be mashed through sieve at least two times. It is extremely important for cheesecake consistency. You may also process cottage cheese with the help of a food processor.
Temperature of Ingredients
It is desirable that all the ingredients should be of room temperature to blend easily.
It is important not to beat up the ingredients otherwise the mixture will be too fluffy and will rise and then fall in the oven. Overmixing can also result in undesirable cavities in cheesecake. What we need is a thick, smooth and tender texture. Use a mixer at low speed and mix only as long as is needed for a smooth consistency.
It is better to use a springform. Cover the bottom with parchment paper. It is not necessary to cover the sides of a pan as a properly prepared cheesecake won’t stick to the sides. But if it does, use a knife to carefully separate with up and down moves (don’t run a knife around the edge it may break the sides of your cheesecake).
A cooked cheesecake should have a smooth and creamy consistency and give the impression of “freshness” rather than “bakeness”. It should also have a smooth, crackless surface.
The abovementioned is easy to achieve – bake a cheesecake at low temperature (150 degrees Celsius) and high humidity.
You can also use a water bath: wrap the pan with aluminum foil on the bottom and place it in a baking pan of hot water to cover the half of your cheesecake height. Bake and 150 degrees Celsius.
Or you may just place a baking pan filled with water on the bottom rack in the oven. Fill a flat pan with high sides with about 2-3 cm of boiling water and place in on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a pan with a cheesecake on a rack for steam to easily go up. The pan on the bottom rack has to be filled with boiling water during the whole process (cold water will reduce the temperature in the oven and extend the time of cooking).
Checking for Doneness
It’s no use to check a cheesecake for doneness with a regular method of pocking with a toothpick or match since they won’t come out dry anyway. Slightly press on the center with your finger – it has to be soft but already quite thick. The center of about 4 mm in diameter may seem undercooked, but it will cook through while cooling. If bake the center through in the oven, the sides will overdry.
Try not to open the oven while baking since sudden changes in temperature are no good for a cheesecake.
Once the cheesecake is done in the oven, simply turn the oven off and slightly open the door. Leave the cheesecake inside for about 1 hour. Then take it out and let sit on the counter to chill to room temperatures. Then place it in the fridge at least for 12 h. It is important! A cheesecake has to be refrigerated at least for 12 h to deliver its taste and come to the right consistency. It’s been my observation that a cheesecake tastes best after 24 h in the fridge. In other words, cook in the evening today – eat in the evening tomorrow.
Use a dry hot knife to get a smooth cut. Pour a knife with boiling water, par dry with a towel and start cutting.
Can be kept refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
You may also cover it with plastic wrap and freeze. A frozen cheesecake can be kept for a few months. Before serving, take it out of the freezer, let defrost at room temperature without removing the wrap. Remove the wrap, top your cheesecake with a topping and serve.
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